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MP3 Thies Roorda, Flute - Beyond Late Romanticism

Jea"Beyond Late Romanticism" - Selected recordings representing a compilation of significant works from the flute literature of the first half of the twentieth century. Including a world premiere: Frank Martin''s Deuxième Ballade pour Flute et Piano!

10 MP3 Songs in this album (60:15) !
Related styles: Classical: Chamber Music, Classical: Impressionism, Instrumental

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Beyond Late Romanticism

These selected recordings represent more than just a compilation of significant works from the flute literature of the first half of the twentieth century. Their significance lies predominantly in the quest for new ways of expression. This grouping of composers might at first sight appear somewhat random, but there is in fact a strong affinity. Karg-Elert and Martin occupied themselves intensively with Schönberg, but in the end developed a language of their own. Karg-Elert developed with his life’s work, the ‘Harmonology’, a theoretical system ‘that aligns the harmonic relations of triads and tetrads within the major and minor scales into a mirrored mode’. Martin, like Reger, was exploring new expression through a chromatic style of writing. Dohnányi, with his Passacaglia, seems to have been poking fun at the dodecaphonic system and was remaining true to traditional harmony. With regard to form, Reger and Dohnányi shared a preference for eighteenth-century forms (minuet, gigue, passacaglia), while Karg-Elert and Martin left the sonata behind in favour of a ‘symphonic canzone’ or a ‘ballade’. Along with kinship with respect to musical content, friendship or affinity for each other’s work was influential (Reger and Andreae, Andreae and Martin, Reger and Karg-Elert). Furthermore, Karg-Elert was Reger’s successor as professor of composition at the Leipzig Conservatoire.
The selection presented here testifies that the twentieth century heralded a blossoming of the flute repertoire, releasing it from the malaise of the previous century.

The personal life and musical career of Karg-Elert (1877–1933) are highly intriguing. Von Reznicek, recognizing his talent, saw to it that he was able to study composition and theory under Reinecke and Jadassohn, respectively, at the Leipzig Conservatoire. It was Grieg who recommended Karg-Elert to various publishers. Among his earlier compositions were some for the ‘art harmonium’ or reed organ, an instrument that strongly appealed to him due to its plethora of colours. In the war years he was appointed as oboist and saxophonist to a military band and thus avoided active service. Although around 1912–14 he was an avid follower of Schönberg, Skriabin and Debussy, his deepening acquaintance with the major classical composers gained through the musicians of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in the military band caused these influences to fade.
‘Flustered, desperate, restless and fanciful, almost precipitous’ (‘aufgeregt, verzweifelt, unruhig und phantastisch, fast überstürtzt’): all these are expression marks used by Karg-Elert in his music. Not only with such expressions but also in his life’s work, the ‘Harmonology’, he was attempting to explore new avenues. The ‘Harmonology’ was his response to Schönberg’s dodecaphonic system and the French modes and polytonality. The title Symphonic Canzone meant that themes would to some degree be subject to development, that there was a cyclic nature through repetition of themes and their variations, and that the closing passage should be treated in a particular way, resulting in a sense of liberation (characterized here as ‘hymn-like’).
The source of inspiration for Karg-Elert’s many works for the flute written between 1915 and 1918 was the performance of the solo flutist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Carl Bartuzat. According to Karg-Elert, the ‘immeasurable technical possibilities’ of the Boehm flute – that was introduced late on in Germany – had been only rudimentarily exploited in the literature. And indeed, his ‘Caprices’, his ‘Sonata Appassionata’ for solo flute, as well the ‘Symphonic Canzone’ make infinite demands on instrumental proficiency and break new ground in this area.

We know Ernst (Ernö) von Dohnányi (1877–1960) as a composer, pianist (his career has been compared to that of Rachmaninov) and conductor. His work has, to some extent unjustly, largely been forgotten. Among his numerous pupils were Andor Foldes, Annie Fischer and Georg Solti. Educated at the Budapest Music Academy, he received lessons in composition from Hans Koessler, a great admirer of Brahms. And it was none other than Brahms himself who introduced Dohnányi’s Opus 1, a piano quintet, to Vienna, after having been asked for his opinion of this young, eighteen-year-old talent. While Bartók’s style of composition underwent considerable development, that of Dohnányi remained essentially unchanged. Even so, his tremendous craftsmanship and the way he could stylize emotional content are to be admired.
From a very early stage he actively endorsed the works of Bartók and Kodály, as well as those of other young contemporaries: just one example of his wholehearted endeavours in support of modern music in Hungary. The Passacaglia, Op. 48, No. 2, Dohnányi’s last work, is dedicated to Ellie Baker, later Eleanor Lawrence, the flutist and conductor. It is one of the few Late Romantic pieces for solo flute, despite its being composed in 1959 and despite its eighteenth-century form (a phenomenon not uncommon to Dohnányi). It is pointed out in the literature that, although the first half of the passacaglia theme comprises a dodecaphonic series, the piece ends completely tonally. Some believe that this is intended ironically. This capricious, highly virtuoso variation piece includes a number of passages that rather have the violin and piano in mind. This reflects Dohnányi’s skills as a pianist, devoid of any technical impediments.

Max Reger (1873–1916) was largely indebted to Hugo Riemann for his training. Riemann was an extremely systematic teacher. It was from him that Reger drew his belief in tradition and professionalism as opposed to the then fashionable, romantic concept of inspiration. For Reger, who even as a small boy had been improvising on the organ, harmony and counterpoint were virtually inextricably bound together. This led to his being called ‘the second Bach’.
His musical style is marked by chromatic harmony often cast in forms from the Baroque and Classical periods (fugues and variations, for example). Living in the Late Romantic period, Reger was not aspiring to a break with tradition but rather to an extension of the musical boundaries. It is significant that composers such as Hindemith, Schönberg and Berg studied his works with admiration.
In November 1908 Henri Marteau played the première of Reger’s Suite (or the Sechs Stücke) in A minor with the composer at the piano. The same violinist had played Reger’s violin concerto a month earlier with the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Nikisch. Reger had his publisher transpose the Burlesque, the Minuet and the Gigue from his Suite, Op. 103a, to render these pieces suitable for the flute. In October 1908 he corrected this transposed version, in the process altering almost all the original slurs.

Volkmar Andreae (1879–1962) was one of the leading personalities in Swiss musical life of the first half of the twentieth century. Like Willem Mengelberg, he was a student of Franz Wüllner at the Cologne Conservatoire. He was conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zürich from 1906 to 1949, was choirmaster and director of the Zürich Conservatoire from 1914 to 1939. Although making his name as conductor mainly with the symphonies of Bruckner, he also devoted himself considerably to the works of Debussy, Ravel and Honegger. The oeuvres of Reger and Richard Strauss were also close to his heart. His significance as conductor is perhaps best characterized by the facts that in 1911 he was asked to succeed Gustav Mahler at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (though he declined this invitation) and that the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra bestowed on him the Nicolai Medal, an honour granted until then only to Bruno Walter and Toscanini. His compositions, a small but multifaceted oeuvre, were often inspired by his conducting or by musicians with whom he worked. His Divertimento for flute and string trio, Op. 43 (1942), is for example dedicated to André Jaunet, principal flutist of the Tonhalle Orchestra, renowned teacher and soloist. Although we can also detect the German High Romanticism, the more Romanesque elements and the transparent style of writing are the features that lend to the work the character reflected in its title.

Frank Martin (1890–1974) wrote a number of Ballades, namely for saxophone (1938), flute (1939), piano (1939), trombone (1940), cello (1949) with orchestra or piano. There followed much later (1972) another Ballade for viola. According to Martin: “The title Ballade permits an element of poetry within a completely free musical form, and, more precisely, epic poetry, but then without any pretence of an allusion to a literary theme. It is the transposition into the domain of pure music of something which in poetry would count as a tale or a dramatic narrative.” The Deuxième Ballade pour Flûte et Piano ou Flûte, Orchestre à cordes, Piano et Batterie, discovered by Maria Martin in 2008, is an adaptation by the composer himself of the Ballade für Alt-Saxophon, Streichorchester, Klavier, Pauken und Schlagzeug. Making frequent use of the instrument’s extreme registers, it is (according to the composer) marked ‘sometimes elegiac, then again ecstatic’. The performance recorded here is a CD première.

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